And so it begins….arrived in Manchester just a couple of hours ago, got to the lovely hotel and just killing some time in the lobby catching up on emails until we get our rooms. First session begins at 4pm local time (GMT). I’ll do my best to post at the end of each day and when allowed to, post pictures as well……
We met Renee today, he took us through his beliefs and coaching philosophy. Very refreshing to see someone believe so much in their philosophy and allow it to shape their life and work environment. Some of his observations were spot on which should lead to an insightful few days ahead.
Day two started off with a real surprise. After getting on the Bus to head to the first session of the morning, we were told that we’ll have an opportunity to go watch first team training at Carrington!! So we headed off to Carrginton with a defininte buzz going around the bus. The Facility is first class as was the quality on display even though many players were not participating in trining due to international training but was still an unbelieveable experience. The players came over and took a quick picture with us and then got back to training.
From Carrington, headed to the Cliff for lunch and the afternoon session. For those of you who don’t know, the cliff is something special….George Best, Dennis Law, Sir Bobby Charlton, Scholes, Giggs, P. Neville, G. Neville, Becks, NIcky Butt, have all played at the Cliff.
After Lunch, Renee came and spoke to the group briefly about the history, the culture and the foundations of the youth program as he started in 2001 as the U6-8s coach. Kevin Ward whose is an Academy Coach with the younger groups, addressed the group and spoke on similar lines to what Renee had been talking about in great depth – creating the environment. Kevin took some time out after before Renee’s field session started to speak with me about a few obersvations he has about working with younger age groups, then we spoke about cultural differences between North America and the UK. It was a very enlightening chat, so thank you Kevin!
Renee’s field session was great, he’s got great energy, enthusiam and passion to coach it is inspiring.
The sessions with Renee was a treat, the session flow and are organization are top notch. The U6-8s came afterward the session for their regular training. As Renee and Kevin had alluded to they were full of life, full of energy and extremely talented. I like the methodology that was used during the session along with the environment created by the coaches.
Dinner was on our own after the session and we had a surprise lecturer for the night session. Tony Strudwick, Head Sports Scientist came and spent 2 hours with us going through planning, preparation, philosophy and his own thoughts and observations. It was extremely enlightening and I’ve gained a great deal of konwledge on the area in 2 short hours.
The morning of day 3 was a little bit more relaxing as we went and had the Man Utd Old Trafford Stadium Tour and Museum Visit. Our tour guide Tony was excellent and true comedian as he had us in fits at different stages through the tour. The stadium is something else, not in the massive North American stadiums you get in Canada and the US but just the history that has come through it, and how simplistic it all is. Nothing is over the top. The Museum is amazing, I only had 20 minutes but could have easily spent 3-4 hours in there as the amount of detail and information is incredible. You really feel as though you a apart of something special when going through it all as the club is so rich in history. I don’t think North American sports organizations do as good of a job ensuring supporters know the history of their clubs/organizations.We had to kill some time before lunchy at the Red Cafe in the stadium so we visited the Megastore which someone said clears 1 million GBP a home match day which is quite incredible. The store is very big, and with soe many different types of items, it can be very easy to spend a great deal of money very quickly.
After the Old Trafford visit, we headed back to the Cliff where Renee presented us with the next part of his philosophy. Again it really is an experience to watch him work.
This is an article published very recently that will give you a true idea of how highly Renee is regarded within the club: http://www.espn.co.uk/football/sport/story/191858.html
It is very neat to see how all the different activities and SSGs Renee uses really fits into his coaching philosophy. He has definitely spent a great deal of time putting it all together so you can only feel priviledged to witness it first hand.
After the cliff, we had a quick gathering to showcase one of the new products becoming available shortly from an NSCAA sponsor – Academy Soccer Coach (www.academysoccercoach.com). They are releasing a mobile version of their session planning software which I think will be revolutionary in many ways as the ability to session plan offline through an iPad or tablet or smartphone will take efficiency to another level.
I had been looking forward to day 4 of the trip since the intinerary came out. Man Utd U18s played versus Reading U18s at Carrington. For the past few years I’ve followed the U18s and the Reserves quite closely so it was a lot of fun being able to watch them live at. Unforuntately a few of the players I really wanted to watch were coming back from their youth international games and one had moved up to the reserve team but the game was still excellent. The Man Utd 18’s won 1-0 on a well taken goal by Anders Perreira who was top notch on the day. His ability on the ball, movement off the ball and work ethic was really eye catching. All in all, another great experience.
The rest of the day we had off, as everyone was allowed to go and do their own thing which was kind of nice. A few people went off to watch a game at Ewood Park (Blackburn Rovers) and some went off to the Reebok Stadium (Bolton Wanderers). For those of you who were around London, Ontario this summer will remember our UK Visitor. Lloyd drove up from London to come see me which was extremely nice of him. It was lovely catching up and he wanted me to say to everyone that he misses being in London and looks forward to an opportunity to come back.
In many ways this is the day everyone has been waiting for. Man Utd vs. Everton at Old Trafford….this should be a great match!
In the morning as I’m walking to the breakfast area I look forward and see half the Everton team sitting and having breakfast which really took me by surprise. I would have thought they would have a conference room or meeting room set up for their own private breakfast but to be sitting in the main hotel restaurant amongs the public eating breakfast was certainly unexpected.
We went to the Rain Bar for lunch which was alright, and but konwing Everton was in our hotel many of us rushed back as to not miss them walking to their team bus. As expected Fellaini got mobbed by fans (in a good way). Was really nice to see all the players and coaching staff be accessible to the fans and general public. David Moyes even stopped to take a picture with me.
With the excitment for the game building we headed to Old Trafford. We were given lovely seats in the second tier behind the goal. What a game it turned out to be. With Manchester City losing to Southampton the day before the impetus was really on United to take advantage and increase their points lead. The lineup was quite strong as it seemed SAF was really going for it. Jones was excellent was marked Fellainin out of the game. Rafael continues to impress with not only the attacking side of the game but his maturity on the defensive side of the game. Vidic was exceptional, I don’t think he lost a single header all game. Rooney was workmanlike with flashes of his ability here and there, and really played his role well especially in the second half where he shifted out left. RVP is world class, no doubt about it! The goals, the movement, the swagged and the calmness on the ball was brilliant to see live. You truly miss a great deal of detail when watching on the Television.
In the end United won 2-0 and stretched their lead to 12 points at the top. This could be the weekend that they won their 20th Premier League title and if they do I can say that I was there!
After the game we all met up at Cloud 23 which is the fancy hotel bar on the 23 floor overlooking the entire city. Renee was in good spirits due to the victory and his demeanor towards the other coaches is very selfless, making sure he said Hi to each of us, making sure we had a good time on the trip. What a guy!
We all said out goodbyes …. until the next time….hopefully.